The 57 Bus

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Oct 2017

Member Reviews

The author of this non-fiction book did a wonderful job balancing the story of two very different teenagers connected by a horribly, tragic, crime. This book highlights beautiful moments in each of the teens lives while exposing the issues surrounding juvenile incarceration, poverty, rehabilitation, and the cycle of those issues in communities all over the states. Slater showed immense compassion for Richard, who mistakenly committed a crime, but never denied it, while not condoning his actions. She brought a light to the strength of Sasha, their friends, family, and the whole LGBTQ+ community. 

The style in which this non-fiction book was written makes it easy to read. Beyond that, I learned so much about LGBTQ+ people. There were so many terms I didn't know existed, or I wasn't quite right in my understanding of the meaning. That alone made this book so much more valuable for me.

I immediately put this on my staff picks at my library and will continue to recommend this for some time to come.
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Starts dry, with lots of vocabulary, but picks up considerably. Be patient with this one, it's worth the effort. Be prepared for heartbreak, also.
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A powerful story. 
Bus 57 starts with an event but is really a book about people and relationships. I appreciate the objective perspectives that push the story along. This is a well told and researched book. The blending of points of view with facts allows the reader to have many moments of insight. At times it reads like fiction and at others, like non-fiction: an interesting blend. 
Stories like this need to be told and read.
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Well-written and thought provoking. The 57 Bus is an important book and a good read for teens and adults.
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Slater shares the stories of both Sasha, whose skirt was lit, and Richard, the teen who wielded the lighter. The lives of both leading up to the bus ride and what occurred after are artfully shared, giving the reader insight into the lives of a non-binary teen with Aspergers and an African-American male teen, along with information about the justice system. Gripping, even in the discussion about the legal system and how juvenile defendants become adults in the eyes of the court. The story of Sasha and Richard is complicated. Slater, with a background as a journalist, does an admirable job of delving further than news outlets at the time and sharing in teen-friendly writing.
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So, this one has been on my radar for awhile.  I confess that I didn’t know too much about it, just that it involved one student lighting another student on fire on a public bus.  I’m really drawn to all things true crime, so this was enough to peak my curiosity.  
What I found out after reading this book, was that it wasn’t just a story about a kid lighting another kid on fire as a joke.  Because the kid who got lit on fire was transgender.  So, it was no longer just a crime of a kid being impulsive and kind of dumb.  Now, it becomes a hate crime.  This was based on an actual crime that occured in Oakland.  The book is split into different sections, focusing on the victim (Sasha), the perpetrator (Richard), the incident, the trial, and the experiences of those close to the people involved.  I liked how the book spent a lot of time talking about Sasha and Richard outside of the actual crime.  Lately, I have been particularly drawn to books that challenge my way of thinking and force me to think very deeply and at times, change my thinking.  This book did all of that and I am still thinking about it.  I also appreciated that there were sections of the book that discussed different definitions related to sexuality and gender.  With all of the growing awareness of gender identities and transgendered people, I don’t see how I could not order this for my library.  There is some swearing, and obviously the crime of lighting someone on fire is pretty extreme, but otherwise not too graphic.  #bibliophile #bookstagram #instabooks #bookaholic #booksofinsta #bookworm #booknerd #booklove #bookgram #books #readersofinstagram
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The 57 Bus was an eye opener. No matter what your personal beliefs are in regards to gender issues (heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexualism, etc) this is a book that deserves your attention. It’s a book about all those things and racism too. It’s a book that allows readers to get an inside glimpse at how our justice system works when it comes to dealing with underage offenders. Plus it’s also a book that details and brings awareness to the way we as human beings treat one another. I don’t have to agree with everything someone else does or believes. But it’s my responsibility as a human being to be decent to everyone - to treat them in the same manner in which I myself would like to be treated. I think that is probably the biggest take away you will get from this book. Be kind!

Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy.
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Excellent nonfiction read for young adults. Give this to any student who is interested in LGBTQ topics, true crime or the juvenile justice system. Well written and informative while also building suspense and keeping the reader engaged. Highly recommend for all high school collections.
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An interesting book about a real-life event that I had no knowledge of before reading. The format of the book was easy to read and did a good job of relaying the events while delving into the people surrounding the events.
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I was gifted an advanced copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.

This is a tough, but important read for young people. Sasha is an agender teenager who loves to wear skirts. Richard is a classmate who hates Sasha because they are different, until the day he set Sasha on fire on the 57 bus. It's the true and tragic story of the hateful crime that changed both of their lives indefinitely. Slater tells this enlightening story with such skill and respect for Sasha's identity, that in the end, we readers long for a world in which that respect is universal.
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What a timely and and important nonfiction title for teens. The subject matter is specifically relevant to the lives of young people today, and the story of these events is told with a deep level of empathy. Restorative justice is introduced in the aftermath of the fire and trial. The author doesn't offer simple solutions, but rather asks difficult questions and is honest in showing an immensely complex situation.
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This book is full of important issues in today's world.  I think it will make more of an impact on the youth today because it is a true account.
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In November of 2013, teenagers Sasha and Richard didn’t have much in common. Sasha attended a small private high school, had a small circle of supportive friends, and identified as genderqueer (preferring they/them pronouns). Richard attended large, public Oakland High School and had already spent a year in juvenile detention. Their lives overlapped for a few short minutes each day on Oakland’s 57 bus. One afternoon, while Sasha was napping in the back of the bus, Richard flicked a lighter near Sasha’s skirt. It erupted in flames and left the teenager with second and third degree burns requiring surgery and months of rehabilitation. Sixteen-year old Richard, who admitted to being homophobic in a police interview, faced a potential life sentence if he was tried as an adult with a hate crime enhancement. Author Dashka Slater takes a remarkably even-handed look at the two young people, the crime, their respective support systems, and role of the justice system in what happened next. In particular, she examines whether a teenager can ever truly act as an adult, and whether adult prisons are an appropriate place for juvenile offenders to serve their sentences. While not a typical true crime story, The 57 Bus is an extremely compelling portrayal of a hate crime and its aftermath. The author deftly illustrates how gender is not always binary, and neither is right/wrong, guilty/not-guilty, just/unjust.
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Thank you to Farrar Straus Giroux and Netgalley for the advance copy of this ebook. All opinions are my own.
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5/5 for this outstanding book. It is based on a true story about a boy who, without really thinking on his way home one day, lit the skirt of a fellow passenger on fire, causing serious injuries. The fellow passenger was an agender person, which sparked a national a cry that identified this as a hate crime. Did Richard do it on purpose, or was he really not thinking? The story is peppered with enlightening facts about gender and sexuality, as well as incarceration data about African-American males. A must read.
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Sasha, a white teen who does not identify with any gender, and Richard, an African American male, are on the same bus when a prank goes awry. Richard accidentally sets Sasha's skirt on fire and is now looking at the possibility of being tried as an adult.

At first glance one might think this ticks all sort of diversity and bullying checkboxes, but ultimately this is a tale of empathy that lingers in the reader's mind long after the last page is turned.
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Thank you Net Galley for the free ARC. 

Interesting book with many difficult complex subjects - gender identification, the justice system, poverty and gangs. Sasha's and Richard's stories intersect the day Richard tries to set Sasha's skirt on fire. This story will keep you thinking for awhile
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Great, descriptive book. This will be a good way to bring up social justice with my teens in a way that will make sense to them.
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Wow--there was so much emotion in this book. I cried, I got angry, I got a TON of great information in this case, and this portrayal of both victim and culprit is eye-opening.  Thank God there is a book for teens that addresses gender fluidity head-on. I cannot wait to take this to schools to booktalk.
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On the evening of November 4, 2013, Sasha Fleishman woke up from a nap on a public bus to find that they had been set on fire. Dashka Slater's The 57 Bus is a remarkable work written for young adults that examines the factors which led to this horrifying moment and the effects it had on victim, perpetrator, and the families and friends of both.

First of all, it is incredibly impressive just how much this book manages to deal with. It addresses growing up both as a privileged, agender, white teenager and as an African American, male teenager from a rough area. It also looks at the problems associated with trying juveniles as adults, as well as the problems which can arise when categorizing a violent act as a "hate crime."

In her introduction to the book, Slater writes, "Surely it's not too late to stop things from going wrong. There must be some way to wake Sasha. Divert Richard. Get the driver to stop the bus. There must be something you can do." But the reader cannot stop time--cannot go back and fix things. All they can do is try to understand.

It would have been so easy to dismiss this incident as a hate crime and leave it at that. Instead, both Sasha (the victim) and Richard (the attacker) have backstories which are fully explored. The book does not condone Richard's actions, but these actions are now presented along with their necessary context. Slater does an outstanding job of showing that no moment can ever be black-and-white: there are always angles that are invisible at first glance.
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I was glad to get an ARC of this book. Thank you Netgalley! While I was touched by this true story I found the list of genders to be so very long. This might be off-putting or even boring to reluctant readers. I get why the author wanted the list in the book but in my opinion it would probably work better if it was located at the end of the book as a glossary or vocabulary. I will say this book is a must have for school and public libraries.
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